Reflections on my 1st year at the JMM

Posted on April 27th, 2016 by

Where you'll find Graham...usually!

Where you’ll find Graham…usually!

As it’s coming up to my year anniversary working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I thought I’d share a few projects I’ve worked on (and some fun I’ve had along the way). You may be wondering what a Visitor Services Coordinator does. While my primary responsibilities involve taking admissions at the front desk, delivering the daily synagogue tours when our volunteer docents are unavailable, scheduling school and adult visits to the Museum and handling rentals, I’ve also taken on a few other tasks.  For instance, I’ve learned the Point of Sale system in the shop, worked to make the museum more accessible and have improved the visitor experience by installing a bike rack and re-landscaping our front courtyard area.

Enjoying baseball with the interns

Enjoying baseball with the interns

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with contractors, gaining experience with project management and learning new tours such as the “Sounds of the Synagogue.”  I’ve mentored our summer interns and organized a field trip for them to an Orioles game in Camden Yards. I also assisted with the de-installation of the Mendes Cohen exhibit.

De-installing 'The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen'

De-installing ‘The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen’

Sometimes I’ve been asked to do a few usual things such as installing Ikea bookcases for our shop, acting as a valet parker when guests got blocked in our staff parking lot, and driving to the Museum late at night for a false burglary alarm.

Showing off some Ikea skills!

Showing off some Ikea skills!

I’ve had fun acting as an ambassador for the JMM whether it was tabling at the National Council for Public history’s annual conference in Baltimore or dressing as a doctor to promote our new Beyond Chicken Soup (chickensoupexhibit.org) exhibit for Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus.

The Wild Purim Rumpus

The Wild Purim Rumpus

Part of the joy of the job has been interacting with visitors from all over the world and hearing their connections to Jewish life in Baltimore. I’ve made lasting friendships with our many volunteers and have grown close to many of the staff.

In the coming year, I hope to take on more volunteer management responsibilities, as our current volunteer coordinator, Ilene Cohen, will be soon leaving the Museum. I also look forward to transitioning to a computerized ticketing and admission system. As always, if you have any suggestions of how I can make the visitor experience better, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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Upgrades to the Visitor Experience

Posted on March 30th, 2016 by

As I was reading Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, & Libraries by Stephanie Weaver, it got me thinking how we could make improvements to the visitor experience at the JMM.  The book encouraged me to take a new look at the museum from the visitor’s point of view beginning with the moment that he or she decided to visit, through the orientation at the front desk to finding comfort in our facilities and finally leaving with both tangible (such as merchandise from the shop) and intangibles (knowledge and a sense of discovery).

book cover

book cover

I found that a lot of what was mentioned in the book we are already doing. For instance, we always try to welcome visitors with a smile, positive attitude and relevant information.  We also strive to have a clean work space, restrooms and fresh merchandise visible from the entrance. I will also continue to ask our security contractor if we may choose guards with outdoing, service-based personalities to work at our site. Our management has also doing an excellent job investing in the staff by encouraging us to attend relevant conferences and webinars.

Esther's Place - now with signage!

Esther’s Place – now with signage!

However, there were a few things that needed changing or updating. After listening through some of the recorded information on our phone system, I found some outdated information so I got that updated to reflect our current exhibit and upcoming programs. Stephanie Weaver emphasized the importance of having an inviting entrance. Partly as a result, next time you visit, you’ll notice that our front courtyard area has been re-landscaped to include more attractive shrubs and flowers.  I am also going to make some changes to front desk handbook so that all our front desk volunteers know how to effectively provide excellent customer service so that our visitors will want to come back again and again.

A little sprucing for spring

A little sprucing for spring

We have also made a few other changes that tie in nicely with our accessibility efforts. Large-print brochures and Braille text for the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America (http://chickensoupexhibit.org/) exhibit, are now available for check-out at the front desk. As I learned that wayfinding is important, we have installed a new ADA restroom sign and welcome sign for the Medicine exhibit in the lobby area. I have also installed new seating to allow our visitors, whether it’s a mother with small children or an elderly couple, to rest while they explore our exhibits.

Accessibility is important!

Accessibility is important!

There are also a few things which we may consider doing in the future such as visitor surveys, upgrades to our restrooms and new graphics by the front desk. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

 

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Reflections on Paul Simon

Posted on January 21st, 2016 by

Visitors listen in Paul Simon: Words & Music

Visitors listen in Paul Simon: Words & Music

As the “Paul Simon: Words & Music” exhibit is being packed up to return to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, I wanted to reflect on its run at the JMM. We had 5,159 visitors to the Museum since mid-October while the exhibit was open.  Just this past Sunday, we had 474 visitors which is more than anyone can remember coming in a single day. On Sunday, we also had two well attended programs including a children’s program with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and a concert in Lloyd Street Synagogue by SONiA disappear fear. Visitors have come from across the country and even from a few foreign countries such as Brazil, Poland and Australia.

SONia performs in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

SONia performs in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

We had a good diversity of groups seeing Paul Simon as well. Last Thursday evening, we had around 70 young Jewish professionals associated with IMPACT attend a “Night at the Museum” where they enjoyed drinks, snacks and an exclusive look at the Paul Simon exhibit. Prior to that, several special needs students visited the Museum from the Maiden Choice School as well as students from the Maryland School of the Blind where they got to use the new Braille handouts that our docent Robyn Hughes developed. We’ve also had visits from several senior groups, Jewish congregations, public and private schools, colleges and even a group of men from a drug addiction treatment center.

Comments abound.

Comments abound.

For the past few months, visitors have been leaving sticky notes commenting on the exhibit. It has been fun to read some of the comments such as visitors being excited that they got to feel like a teenager again and others who thanked us for the memories and the inspiration. One man described growing up near Paul Simon’s neighborhood in Queens and another recalled being at the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park in 1981.

Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in AMerica logo, shades of green with a stethoscope as the ampersand.

Mark your calendars for March 13th!

Although we are sad to see Paul Simon go, the space will not be empty for long, as we will begin installing our next original exhibit, “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America,” which will open on March 13th.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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